Questions tagged [grammar]

文法. A collective term for syntax (the way sentences are put together) and morphology (forms of words, including the way new words are put together). Often used to describe function words such as particles, to describe word endings, and to talk about general sentence structure.

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“Unsolvable problem”

What is the correct construction of "unsolvable problem"? Is it "解{と}けられない問題{もんだい}"?(Question 1) Plain(intransitive): 解{と}ける "To be solved". Potential form(of intransitive): 解けられる "can be ...
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How do ことになる and ようになる differ? (When ことになる cannot = “It has been decided that”)

I understand that ことになる has the meaning "It has been decided that" and can be used to point to a ritual or habit of a society like taking off your shoes. However, I don't get what it means when it is ...
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“Te-form” versus “masu-stem + して” (消しているうちに versus 消ししているうちに)

Is there any difference between 消して and 消しして in the following sentences? For example, A: 手紙を書いては消し、書いては消ししているうちに、朝になってしまった。 B: 手紙を書いては消し、書いては消しているうちに、朝になってしまった。
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Difference between ながら, がてら and つつ

What is the difference between ながら, がてら and つつ?
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I am struggling with the sometimes conflicting uses of 先

Rikaisama's definition of 先 includes meanings like previous; prior; former; some time ago. However it also includes meanings such as front; ahead; the future; destination. I am struggling to make ...
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Difference between 〜といい〜といい & 〜といわず〜といわず

Can somebody explain the difference between these two expressions? I have pasted the definitions and some examples from 日本語表現文型辞典 to help but they seem to come down to the same thing. (When can one ...
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When to use 他【ほか】の or 他【ほか】に

I always thought only 他の existed, but my teacher uses 他に a lot. Are there differences between when each can be used? Here are two examples of each from my online dictionary: だれかほかの人に聞いてごらん (Ask ...
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The use of -さん when answering about oneself

If someone says, あなた は Chris-さん です か。 Are you Chris? Do you answer Chris です Or Chris-さん です
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Is there a difference between んがため and ために?

My JLPT textbook has a section about the use of んがため, which they define as "making an effort in order to realize the intended purpose." Which to me sounds like plain ol' ために. For example, they have ...
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Where does the verbal form しとく come from?

In a manga I am currently reading, one of the character exclaims: 安心しな。秘密に しとく から。 The general meaning of the second part ("I'll keep it a secret") is quite obvious, and it seems that "しとく" (...
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How to say “also” or “too”

The sentence "I also ate in Tokyo" can mean three different things: (Aside from my friends who ate there), I also ate in Tokyo. (Aside from the other places where I tried local cuisines), I also ...
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Aren't がる and たがる the same thing?

In my JLPT practise book, it has two different entries, one to explain がる and one to explaining たがる. It offeres these example sentences to differentiate them: うちの子{こ}は新{あたら}しいものを見{み}ると、すぐほしがる。 ...
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How many verb endings to express “do this (please)”?

I'm familiar with the て and てください forms of a verb to give a command/request and request, respectively. However, I've run across these other forms and really don't know which to use in what situation. ...
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Why is 楽しみに!wrong?

I was corrected on Lang-8 website that I should write 楽しみ!or 楽しみにしています!instead of 楽しみに!. And I don't understand why. Help please. 教えてくださいませんか。
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How does -ki form of i-adjectives work? (e.g. 愛しき)

In one of the Bleach anime ending songs, "Hanabi" has the following line: 繋ぎゆく この想い 愛しき 君 "itoshiki" seems to come from "itoshii", but how does this -ki form of i-adjective work? I found a few ...
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Conjugated word + んだ vs nonconjugated word + conjugated んだ

Suppose I have a verb/adjective/noun, let's say 無理, and I add (な)んだ to it as an explanatory sentence-ending particle. What would be the difference in nuance between the following two conjugated ...
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Difference and nuance between することはない and する必要はない/する可能性はない

I understand the grammar point "Verb (Dictionary Form) + ことはない" can mean either "There is no need" or "There is no possibility" depending on context. However, what are the differences? Are there any ...
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Is it bad practice to use “することができる” as opposed to just “できる”?

The potential form of "する" is "できる". However, "~ことができる" can be appended to verbs to create a potential form. Hence, "することができる" can be used as the potential form of "する". While I think there are times ...
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Different ways to show intention to do something

How can one say "I am going to", express intention to do something in the future. I know some expressions such as: たいと思う -  I'm going to/ I want to ましょう - I will/ Why don't I しようと思う ...
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The correct usage of ~と決める, ~に決める, and ~を決める

Browsing the example of 決める, I found at least there are 3 patterns as follows: 行くと決めた。I decided to go. 行くまいと決めた。I decided not to go. 車を買うことに決めた。I decided to buy a car. 会議の日を決めた。I decided the meeting ...
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What are the valid potential forms of special “suru” verbs?

Good afternoon all, From what I understand, special "suru" verbs only have one potential form which is formed using the syntax: [verb-stem] + [せる] For example, 愛す・愛する → 愛せる and 訳す・訳する → 訳せる. ...
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How to know if ~たら is hypothetical or temporal

I encountered the following sentence in the chapter introducing conditionals from the online grammar guide Imabi. 休んだら、元気になったWhen I rested, I got better. Earlier, the article explained that たら can ...
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What's the difference between 〜以上は and 〜からには

The textbook I'm currently using defines both of these grammar points as: 〜のだから、絶対にする/しないのが当然だ What is the difference between the two grammar points, can they be used interchangeably like the ...
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what's the difference between 話をする and 話す?

I'm trying to understand the nuances between 話をする and 話す. When is one used over the other? I'm reviewing A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, and it has the following example sentence: ...
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Understanding the usage of もう with present tense verbs

I think when a lot of people first learn もう it's as "already', right? There's also the meanings of "anymore", "soon", "now", "more', "another" and its use as an interjection. That's a lot of meaning ...
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Standard mathematical operations, expressed in Japanese

First-time poster on this channel, so please forgive me if I screw anything up... I'm currently writing a "Japanese Calculator" program as part of a personal project I'm working on which takes rōmaji ...
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In what way is the negative form of a verb an adjective?

I was reading the wikipedia page on "predicate," where it mentioned that in Japanese, the negative form of a verb is an adjective. I thought that this was too expansive a statement to be true, but ...
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What's the difference between 歩んでいった and 歩んできた?

私はまっすぐな人生を歩んできた。 私はまっすぐな人生を歩んでいった。 Could someone explain to me the difference between the two? Thanks a lot! Edit: I still find ていった confusing even after reading the other post. So ...
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Why can't だ be used after an I-adjective?

I have been constantly told that だ can not be placed after an I-adjective. Why is that?
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Habitual aspect

My (poor) understanding of things is that there are two ways to get habitual semantics in Japanese: use the dictionary form of the verb: 毎日、映画{えいが}を見に行く "I go to the movies every day." use the -...
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When do you use するには as opposed to するため(には) to mean “in order to”?

I keep having するため(には) corrected to するには when writing sentences, but how interchangeable are they and when should each be used? Taking some Japanese sentences from Space ALC with my own English ...
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Do Japanese parents address their son as musuko?

In America, parents can address their son as son. For example, "Son, could you open the window for me?" Do Japanese parents address their son as 息子?Thanks.
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What is the difference between なぜなら、だから、and なので?

I'm trying to get clarification on how to use these three pieces of grammar and whether or not they all hold some kind of "Because" meaning.
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Why is 一緒に correct and 一緒で incorrect?

This is a mistake I habitually make, even though I know what the right form is. Earlier tonight, I wanted to tell my friend "Let's go together!", so I sent a mail saying: 一緒{いっしょ}で行{い}こう! My ...
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「どこでもある」と「どこにもある」の使い分け

I have come across this sentence: 一九七0年頃までは、どこでも銭湯がありましたが、今は、少なくなりました。 Why does it say どこでも X がある instead of どこにも X がある I understand that で and に are very similar as they have ties in the past, ...
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The different usages of ことがある

If I understand correctly, the main usages of ことがある seem to be the following: Verb(plain)+ことがある: There are times when (I) Verb(past)+ことがある: (I) have experienced (something) before But after this ...
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What does the sentence structure AでもB mean in this song?

The song in question can be found here. For example: いっぽんでもニンジン While I do know that でも means 'but', I also know that most particles have multiple meanings. Since 'but' wouldn't make much sense ...
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Sentence (question) ending かい - how is it different from just か?

I sometimes find questions that are normally ended with the question particle か to end with かい. For example: いいかい? そうかい? あいつがどうかしたかい? And sometimes with just い without か (if I understand ...
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How to list numbers of things

Where do you place the counter in Japanese when you want to specify how many of something there are, especially if you're listing multiple things? I believe the counter usually goes after the ...
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“からだけ” vs “だけから”, which is grammatical?

Good afternoon all, I was wondering when we chain particles, should "から" come before "だけ", or should it be the other way round? For example, I'm expecting a mail from 健一, a mail from 健二, and a mail ...
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Why does 「電話は切れた」 sound more adversarial than 「電話が切れた」?

I noticed that while 「…、電話が切れた」 sounds just like a neutral phrase ("... and the call got cut off."), 「…、電話は切れた」 sounds more like you were negatively affected / that the person on the other side ...
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な directly after a noun (not a な-adjective)

While reading a grammar book, I read the following explanation of な な na, a masculine ne Both sexes use ne, but male speakers often use na instead. There are other uses of na common to both ...
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How do I say “before” or “used to” in Japanese?

朝、作文を書いた時、疑問に思いました。 How can I say something like: I didn't use to like this band. Before, I didn't like this band.
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Different meanings of こわい

I was watching this video (it's actually a really good series, despite the odd presentation). In it, there is the example: おばけがこわい。 Ghosts are scary. No problem there, but the series has been ...
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Can 何で mean “how”?

Looking at this, it seems that when the word 何 is used with the で particle, it roughly translates into "by means of what" or "in what context." Personally, that sounds like asking "how". Is this ...
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What is the difference between は and のは?

The following sentence means "seeing all the different foreign people was interesting." This, according to my Japanese friends is incorrect: 色々な外国人を見ているは面白かった。 ... and this is correct: ...
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What does 逃げっこなしにしよう mean?

So, I was reading a children's story and came across this sentence: 「いいか、この最後のローソクが消えたら、本当のお化けが出るかもしれん。だが、どんなお化けが出ようと、お互いに逃げっこなしにしよう」 What I'm having trouble understanding and dictionaries haven't ...
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Passive vs. active form of verb (past) What is the difference?

I was wondering what the difference is if I use passive form or active form of a verb. For example: ネズミは猫に食べられた。The mouse was eaten by the cat. 猫は、ネズミを食べた。The cat ate the mouse. What EXACTLY is ...
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Can ~たり~たり end with verbs other than する?

In the past, I have come across several examples of ~たり~たり seemingly being used with other final verbs than する, which is generally taught to be mandatory at the end of ~たり~たり phrases. Is this ...
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Can placements of adverbs be altered freely?

I'm curious if there is any difference in nuance between these two sentences: 彼は少なくとも週に一度車を洗う。 彼は週に少なくとも一度車を洗う。 I'm aware that grammatically speaking both are 100% right, but this question is not ...